Is it possible to check my MetroCard balance outside of the subway in New York? For example, if I'm far away from a subway station while waiting for a bus.

  • You have tagged a city, but your question does not specify it. Please edit your question to make it useful for others. – Prometheus Jul 30 '14 at 21:37

At this time the only way to check your MetroCard balance is by using a machine in a subway station.

This is because while MetroCard does have a central database of all transactions, it is not accessible in real time, and the balance (or unlimited ride expiration) is encoded directly on the card's magnetic stripe each time you swipe it at a turnstile or farebox.

(This is what's happening when the turnstile tells you to swipe it again at this turnstile; in this situation something went wrong with the re-encoding of the magnetic stripe, and it needs to do it again.)

While in theory a web site could query your balance from the database, the information would be out of date and possibly useless.

  • Ahh, so that's what that message is all about. I feel like I just learned a secret. – Louis Jul 30 '14 at 21:53
  • 1
    You did. :) And make sure that you do swipe it again; in this circumstance the fact of your fare deduction has already been sent off to the database, so using the card at another turnstile will cause you to be double charged. – Michael Hampton Jul 30 '14 at 21:54

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